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Racist remarks often raise their ugly head amongst us and whilst we are told they are common in sport but this should not surprise us because they seem to be common in everyday thinking.

Do they come from fear of those who appear to be different to us? Or is it because they have been allowed to grow in our minds and left unchecked in personal conversations? Do we find a perverse strength in denigrating one group of people? I’m not sure but I do know that it is ever so easy to criticise another person or group of people if I do not hold myself in check.

“You never know what’s in the jar until it is knocked”, runs the Indian proverb about the contents of jars so delicately balanced on the heads of women. Surely this can be the case with us. For all intentions we look ok, but when a situation arises that causes us to react, what’s been hidden can so easily overflow for all to hear or see.

The only way to combat racism is to make sure that what is inside the jar of our minds is good. To believe with all our heart that we have all been made equal in the sight of God will go a long way to keeping us from racist remarks and the racist thoughts that fuel them.

The conviction that every person is important, to be respected, because they bear the Divine image, flows directly from the book of Genesis and is confirmed throughout the Bible. This alone should ensure that we are racist neither in our thoughts, words or actions. However, Genesis also reminds us that I’m sinful, only too prone to think too highly of myself and not highly enough of you.

How grateful I am once again for what I learned in Sunday School. The song, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world”. What is true of little children, who, let’s be honest, are often so much easier to love than adults, is to be true in our dealings with one another as adults.

Opportunities to show forth real respect in concrete acts of loving service abound in our multi racial communities and we are all the richer when we do so.  Like all our behaviour, our minds are the source of our thinking and words.

The words of Genesis and of Jesus can be relied upon to challenge and shape us in this regard. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him, male and female He created them” and “so in everything, do to others what you would have them do for you, for this sums up the law and the prophets”.